Lakers’ LeBron James on his NBA future after win over Nets: ‘I don’t have much time left’



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NEW YORK — LeBron James isn’t sure when he’s retiring — but he knows it’s approaching soon.

After scoring 40 points and tying his career high with nine 3-pointers in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 116-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Sunday, James was asked how long he plans to continue playing in the NBA.

“Not very long,” James said. “Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill. I’m not gonna play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure. But not very long. I don’t know when that door will close as far as when I’ll retire. But I don’t have much time left.”

Less than 30 minutes earlier, the 39-year-old James checked out to a standing ovation from a pro-Lakers road crowd after putting on a show in the fourth quarter with 17 points and making all four of his 3-point attempts.

Brooklyn cut Los Angeles’ lead to just eight points, 90-82, with 11:42 remaining in the game. James responded by making consecutive 3s, and four total over a five-minute span, to extend the Lakers’ back to 18 points midway through the fourth.

“It’s incredible,” coach Darvin Ham said. “I told him in the huddle before his last little stretch and we ultimately subbed him out. Just extremely thankful that he packed the cape on the road trip. Needed all nine of those 3s.”

In his 21st season, James is inexplicably shooting a career-best 41.6 percent on 3s — one percent higher than his previous career-high mark (40.6 percent in 2012-13 with the Miami Heat). James attributed the career year to being healthier — though he’s technically still battling left ankle peroneal tendinopathy — and being able to get more practice time and shooting reps on off-days.

“My foot has felt a lot better,” James said. “I didn’t have much time to like really rep a lot last year because I had to make sure I could be on the floor running around or (not) putting much pounding of my foot on the floor. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to get on the floor. … And just trying to stay consistent with my shot, do the same shot every time. And just work. Just work work work work.”

Anthony Davis, who is in his fifth season alongside James, said he’s never seen him shoot better than he did against the Nets when considering the efficiency (90 percent on his 3s), volume (career-high-tying nine makes) and the difficulty (James hit several off-balanced, heavily contested shots).

“It’s still surprising,” Davis said of James. “Like I said, the way he was shooting them, the runout in the left corner on their side of the floor, I mean, he’s one-twoing into it, he’s hopping into it, he’s fading. I mean, he was doing everything tonight from the 3-point line. … It was masterful just to sit here and watch that. He got us separation.”

As for his future with the Lakers and in the NBA, James has a $51.4 million player option for next season. He has five realistic options he’ll weigh this summer:

  • Opt into his contract for next season with the Lakers.
  • Opt in and extend with the Lakers for as much as three years and $164 million.
  • Opt out and re-sign with the Lakers for as much as three years, $162 million.
  • Opt out and sign with another team for as much as three years, $157.5 million.
  • Retire.

Both James and the Lakers would currently prefer he retire a Laker, according to team and league sources.

Required reading

(Photo: Mike Stobe / Getty Images) 





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